Maria's Story - a German child in WWII 

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Maria was eleven years old when World War Two ended. She was an only child living with her mother in the historic German city of Wurzburg. Maria's father drove a tank in the German army. In March 1945, Wurzburg was bombed by the allied forces. Ninety percent of the city was destroyed. Five thousand people were killed. 

Luckily, Maria's upstairs neighbours had a hidden radio so they heard that the attack was coming - 225 Lancaster bombers and 11 Mosquito Bombers were headed for their city. The neighbours warned Maria and her mother so they all ran for the bunker. Within minutes, the bombing began. The 'Christmas Trees' that Maria talks about were actually flares on green parachutes, dropped by the Mosquitos to light up the area so the bombers could see their targets.

These are Maria's memories of that night.

The images are of Wurzburg and other German cities during World War Two.

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After their escape from the bunker, Maria and her mother left the burning city and walked for two days, knocking on farmhouse doors, asking for food and somewhere to stay. They spent the first night in a stable and Maria vividly remembers waking up with mice running across her face during the night. Two weeks later they returned to Wurzburg and found a message Maria's aunt had scratched into a rock where their house had once stood. They walked across to the next town to Maria's aunt's house and lived with her for the next three years, until Maria's father returned from the Russian front in 1948.

Maria and her husband and family moved to Australia to live in the 1960s. She will celebrate her eightieth birthday in 2014 with her Australian grandchildren.

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